AbiWord: AbiSource's Open Source Word Processor

A cross-platform commercial application is giving away their source—here's the story.
The Business Model

Unlike Netscape, AbiSource does not have millions of dollars in other product sales to fund development. Until AbiWord 1.0 is ready, AbiSource will have to rely on a combination of revenue from their previous contracting work and funding from outside sources. AbiSource currently has some investors and is in the process of looking for more.

When AbiWord 1.0 ships to end users later this year, AbiSource will begin offering services and support to generate revenue. There is a large and always-growing demand for desktop office tools. Eric believes AbiWord will attract users “who value the advantages offered by community-developed Open Source software.”

Future Development

Although I found AbiWord 0.5.5 stable enough to write this article, it is still considered a developer release. AbiWord 1.0 should be available by the end of the year. AbiSource plans to continue development of its AbiSuite software. The next application will be AbiFile, a personal database manager and then a presentation manager called AbiShow. Gnumeric (the spreadsheet under development for the GNOME project) will serve as AbiCalc. AbiSource's role in Gnumeric development will be to make it cross-platform. Additionally, support for importing and exporting documents in formats like RTF, MS Word, Word Perfect and HTML will be a high priority. These tools will be developed as modules and will be ideal opportunities for outside developers to contribute to the project.

Asked where he sees the company in a few years, Eric replied,

We expect to succeed. The existence of a full-featured, cross-platform, open-source office suite will bring substantial change to the software industry. We expect to be the company that brings that change. It's going to be a fun ride.

Resources

Craig Knudsen (cknudsen@radix.net) lives in Fairfax, VA and telecommutes full-time as a web engineer for ePresence, Inc. of Red Bank, NJ. Craig has been using Linux for both work and play for three years. When he's not working, he and his wife Kim relax with their two Yorkies, Buster and Baloo.

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